Saturday, August 25, 2012

Some Saturday Quickies

Hey! Get your mind out of the gutter; this is about news.

1. "Undecided"

Apparently, inexplicable numbers of Americans are still "undecided" about the presidential candidate they prefer:

Two months out from Election Day, nearly a quarter of all registered voters are either undecided about the presidential race or iffy in their support for a candidate, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

These voters could well prove decisive in a close contest. And they will be tough nuts for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to crack.

Just 29 percent of them have a strong interest in the campaign, compared with 51 percent of those who've made up their minds. So no, they won't be hanging on every word coming out of the national political conventions in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., over the next two weeks.

A fine example of mindlessly uncritical journalism. The critical question here is not why so many voters are "undecided," but why the reporter accepted such representations at face value. Virtually no one is truly "undecided" this year, but nearly all of us are sick of pollsters, telephone calls from pollsters, and the unconcealed biases of so-called "journalists." So we claim to be "undecided," in the hope that these folks will leave us alone.

Sadly, it doesn't appear to be working. The "journalists" need something to write about, so we get articles such as this one. Say, how about an article on the rising panic among "journalists" as regular people withdraw their interest in the Old Media?


2. Oh, For The Days Of "The Family That Prays Together" PSAs.

You'd have to be a modern-day Rip Van Winkle not to know that organized hostility toward Christianity and Christians is at a millennial high:

A new report by the Family Research Council and the Liberty Institute claims that there's been a rising pattern of hostility toward Christians in America over the past decade.

The 140-page "Survey of Religious Hostility in America," prepared by the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council, highlighted more than 600 examples illustrating what it characterized as religious animosity shown by judges, government bureaucrats, schools and secular groups. From ObamaCare mandates that force religious entities to pay for contraception, to children being punished for uttering prayers in school, the report's findings shocked even those who commissioned it.

“It’s a conflict of world views," Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, told "These groups want people to check their faith at the door of the public square.”

It's actually worse than that. Militant atheism is at an all-time high. Christian believers are verbally attacked in innumerable situations -- by persons who can no more prove the veracity of their own creeds than any Christian! As a specimen of intellectual arrogance and overweening pretension to superiority, it's unequaled in my experience.

But note! The militant atheists never, ever challenge Islam or Muslims. Might that be because Christians don't react to derision with violence? Hmmm....


3. Evidence? We Don't Need No Stinking Evidence!

Lance Armstrong has decided to throw up his hands over the utterly baseless assaults on his cycling victories:

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stripped Lance Armstrong's seven Tour de France titles Friday, erasing one of the most incredible achievements in sports after deciding he had used performance-enhancing drugs to do it.

Armstrong, who retired a year ago, was also hit with a lifetime ban from cycling. An athlete who became a hero to thousands for overcoming cancer and for his foundation's fight against the disease is now officially a drug cheat in the eyes of his nation's doping agency.

However, the organizers of the Tour de France say they will wait to see what happens before commenting on Lance Armstrong's case.

In a news release, USADA said Armstrong's decision not to take the charges against him to arbitration triggers the lifetime ineligibility and forfeiture of all results from Aug. 1, 1998, through the present, which would include the Tour de France titles he won from 1999 through 2005.

Armstrong has strongly denied doping and contends USADA was on a "witch hunt" without any physical evidence against him.

Mind you, Armstrong has never, ever failed a drug test or a doping test. Apparently, his success alone, at a sport in which Americans had not previously been prominent, was enough to trigger the assaults on his name and achievements.

Just who is this "U.S. Anti-Doping Agency?" Who sits on its boards? Who wrote its criteria for action? And why, given the utter absence of any physical evidence against Lance Armstrong, did it decide to embark on a campaign of defamation against him?


4. Another Lawyers' Field Day.

Samsung has been hit with the largest-ever verdict in a patent-infringement case -- over the look and feel of its products:

After a year of scorched-earth litigation, a jury decided Friday that Samsung ripped off the innovative technology used by Apple to create its revolutionary iPhone and iPad.

The jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion. An appeal is expected. Apple Inc. filed its patent infringement lawsuit in April 2011 and engaged legions of the country's highest-paid patent lawyers to demand $2.5 billion from its top smartphone competitor. Samsung Electronics Co. fired back with its own lawsuit seeking $399 million.

But verdict, however, belonged to Apple, as the jury rejected all Samsung's claim against Apple. Jurors also decided against some of Apple's claims involving the two dozen Samsung devices at issue, declining to award the full $2.5 billion Apple demanded. However, the jury found that several Samsung products illegally used such Apple creations as the "bounce-back" feature when a user scrolls to an end image, and the ability to zoom text with a finger tap.

"Look and feel." Who on Earth came up with the idea that such things could be patented? What's that you say? Lawyers? It figures.

Two jokes:

  • A new test for determining your ideal occupation involves a safari: You are sent to Africa to hunt elephants. Your behavior there is matched against that of the major occupational groups. Whichever group you most resemble is your occupation of choice.

    Lawyers don't actually hunt elephants, but they do argue with one another over who owns the elephants', ah, "droppings." A software lawyer will claim to own an entire herd based on the "look and feel" of a single dropping.

  • There was once a peaceable small town, somewhere in Middle America, whose population included a lawyer. That's right: the town was home to just one lawyer. That poor soul barely managed to survive, year after year, in that peaceable small town.

    However, the story has a happy (?) ending, for by and by a second lawyer moved to that peaceable small town...and now the two of them have all the work they can handle.


5. What Was That About Civility, Mr. Obama?

Do you recall something about bringing a "new tone" to national politics, if only we'd install a Marxist Mulatto in the White House?

Democrats are planning to break from the tradition of keeping a low profile during the rival party’s convention, dispatching Vice President Biden to the host city and putting other A-list surrogates on the campaign trail to perhaps steal some of the spotlight...

The move marks a concerted effort to make sure the Democratic message is not drowned out, not even for a week, in what is shaping up to be a tightening presidential race.

“Decorum has broken down,” said Christopher Arterton, former dean of the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. “It’s accepted practice now. We may well see each party make news during the other’s convention.”

Arterton points out that Obama being president makes whatever he says newsworthy. “So it’s easier to intrude,” particularly after a news event “like a hurricane, just suppose,” he said.

Obama is desperate. He knows as well as any conservative that the polls that show a neck-and-neck race are based on samples heavily weighted toward Democrats. He also knows that a defeat would damage both his personal escutcheon and the entire left-liberal europeanization-of-America project for decades to come. Given that the University of Colorado's fabled electoral college simulation predicts a landslide Romney victory, he, his campaign, and his many cat's paws in the media and the entertainment world are pulling out all the stops. No tactic will be deemed beneath consideration; effectiveness will be the sole criterion.

Fortunately, the masks have been off for a while now. Reince Priebus has stated that the GOP will counter Obamunist tactics with moves of equal ferocity. The nation will have a clear choice before it...and hopefully, will remember all the empty promises Obama made during the 2008 campaign, including the one about a "new tone."


6. Yes, It's True...

After forty years -- dear God, am I really that old? -- of playing acoustic guitar, I've decided to take up the electric version of the instrument. And yes, I really did order a Gibson Les Paul from Amazon yesterday evening, in a fit of unprecedented euphoria about...well, a lot of things.

Unfortunately, an electric guitar of any sort is a "gateway" purchase. Next come the special-effects pedals. Then the wall of Marshall amps. Then the MIDI boxes and mix-down equipment. Then the Korg synthesizer. Then the wild hairstyles, the piercings, and the odd clothes. Then the massive drug habits and hob-nobbing with equally deranged celebrities. Then...

Hm, this could be fun. Stay tuned!


Joan of Argghh! said...

Beat ya to it. After *mumble * years of acoustic, I've got a simple little electric guitar to play with.

I had one given to me years ago by the brilliant Doyle Dykes, a Fender jazz with a custom cut-down neck. It didn't last two months in Mexico City before someone backed a truck through our warehouse-church steel doors and stole it. *sigh*

Mark Alger said...

A tip about the guitar. Don't keep it under the bed or in a closet. Have it out where you can just pick it up and play when the mood strikes you. I have ignored that advice and, while I, too, have a Les Paul, the closest I have come in the last ten years to playing guitar was when I shook Justin Hayward's hand.


lelnet said...

It takes a lot of nerve (pun simultaneously intentional and not) for a man experiencing the sort of intense shoulder pain as you've described to go out and buy a new electric guitar.

Bravo, Mr. Porretto. :)

Mark Butterworth said...

The Gibson Les Paul has a shorter scale length for its fretboard than a Fender. It works out better for people with smaller hands like Jimmy Page. Hendrix had very long fingers and went with the Strat.

I decided on the Strat when I moved from acoustic to electric since it just felt right when I was in the store.

How good are your chops? I was a virtuoso at fingerstyle guitar since my early 20's but haven't played much for the last few years.